Salim Yusuf

Salim Yusuf will receive an honorary doctorate from Oxford University in recognition of his transformative contributions to cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention, treatment and management worldwide. He is the Executive and Founding Director of the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI), a joint institute of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences, and a Distinguished Professor at McMaster. 

The award, which will be presented at a ceremony at Oxford in June, marks a full-circle moment in Yusuf’s four-decade-long journey, highlighting the lasting impact of his academic and professional efforts that began when he joined St Johns College, Oxford in 1976 as a Rhodes Scholar from India and earned a DPhil in 1980. 

“It’s an incredible honor to receive this degree from my alma mater. This recognition not only reflects my personal journey but also acknowledges the collective efforts of all those who have contributed to advancing research in cardiovascular diseases,” Yusuf said. 

“Oxford played a foundational role in my development as a researcher, broadened my horizons and perspectives and made me believe that we could transform cardiovascular health globally.” 

Yusuf, an esteemed cardiologist, and epidemiologist, conducts research investigating how biological, societal, and environmental factors contribute to cardiovascular diseases. His extensive work covers more than 80 countries across the globe, focusing on population health through large-scale international clinical research programs. Some of his notable studies include INTERHEART, INTERSTROKE, the Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiological (PURE) studies as well as large practice changing clinical trials. These trials have established the value of ACE-inhibitors, antiplatelet drugs and combinations of blood pressure lowering, cholesterol lowering and aspirin (in a single polypill) in preventing heart attacks and strokes at low cost.  

“Dr. Salim Yusuf is a brilliant and world-renowned researcher, and so it is both well-deserved and fitting for him to receive an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, Oxford University – one of the world’s most respected academic institutions,” said Paul O’Byrne, dean and vice-president of McMaster’s Faculty of Health Sciences. “I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Salim on this singular achievement.” 

He has held various prestigious positions, including the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario Research Chair and Senior Scientist of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. He is also past President of the World Heart Federation. Additionally, Yusuf has earned induction into esteemed institutions such as the Royal Society of Canada, the Order of Canada, and the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in 2014. In 2023, he was elected as an Honorary Fellow of St John’s College, Oxford, and has previously been awarded four honorary doctorates. 

“As the current President of the World Heart Federation, it fills me with immense pride to celebrate Dr. Salim Yusuf’s well-deserved recognition from Oxford University. Salim’s journey from a passionate Rhodes Scholar to a pioneer in cardiovascular science, encapsulates his unwavering dedication to health and equity. He played a foundational role in WHF, where he developed the concept of a roadmap to identify roadblocks and policy solutions for CVD, as well as initiated the training and professional development of the next generation of cardiovascular influencers through the Emerging Leaders programme, which this year celebrates its 10th edition. We are grateful for Dr Yusuf’s contributions and commitment to our shared vision of cardiovascular health for everyone” said Dr. Daniel Pineiro, President of the World Heart Federation.  

Among numerous awards, Yusuf has received the Lifetime Research Achievement award from the Canadian Cardiovascular Society, the Lifetime Award from the World Heart Federation, the European Society of Cardiology gold medal, the American Heart Association Clinical Research Award, the Killam Prize, and the Canada Gairdner Wightman Award. He has been among the highest cited scientists in the world for over a decade. 

“Hamilton Health Sciences recognizes this noteworthy lifetime achievement, and we extend our congratulations to Dr. Yusuf on the bestowing of this Honorary Doctorate from Oxford University,” said Dr. Tamar Packer, executive vice president, academic and chief medical executive, Hamilton Health Sciences. 

“Dr. Yusuf is among the most frequently-cited and leading cardiovascular researchers in the world, who has led many highly impactful large-scale research studies globally. The outcomes of his research are defined by their ability to influence leading practice and hence the cardiovascular well-being of both rural and urban populations around the world.” 

Yusuf has been leading PHRI for more than 25 years, during which he’s been training, mentoring, and supporting over 200 scientists from various countries, thereby amplifying global efforts in CVD prevention.  

“It’s truly inspiring to see how far we’ve come in cardiovascular research over the years. We are committed to continuing our journey towards better heart health for all! We now have the tools to halve CVD globally at low cost,” Yusuf added.   

The honorary doctorate from Oxford is one of the most prestigious recognitions in the world, with a tradition extending over 500 years. It has been granted to distinguished individuals from various fields including presidents, industry leaders, educators, artists, writers, and scientists, in recognition of their remarkable contributions to society and academia. 

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